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Faculty Scholarship

Mitchell’s New Book ‘Heirs’ Property’ Released

The Drinan Chair's latest scholarship was published by the American Bar Association.


Robert Drinan, SJ, Professor Thomas W. Mitchell’s new book Heirs’ Property and the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act: Challenges, Solutions, and Historic Reform has been released from the American Bar Association. The book is intended to increase awareness among lawyers, policymakers, and the general public of current problems and present solutions regarding heirs’ property. Mitchell acts as lead co-editor (with Erica Levine Powers) of the book and is a contributing author. Other contributors include academics, nonprofit organization leaders, grassroots activists, and prominent attorneys in private practice.

Mitchell is widely regarded as a leading expert in the field. He was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant in large part for his work in heirs’ property, and recently received the ABA’s Jefferson B. Fordham Award for Advocacy.

“To realize more of the promise of the Civil Rights Movement, massive racial and ethnic wealth gaps must be narrowed,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, in the ABA’s promotional materials for the book. “Deeply problematic, unstable, and widespread heirs’ property ownership has plagued Black and Brown communities for decades.This book should be the go-to book for those interested in helping disadvantaged heirs’ property owners significantly improve their ability to build and maintain the wealth, culture, and history associated with their property as well as for those committed to helping make our property system less racialized and more just.”

Melvin L. Oliver, president of Pitzer College and co-author of Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality, also praised the book. “Heirs’ property has long represented highly unstable and problematic second-class property ownership, which has contributed to exacerbating the racial wealth gap,” Oliver wrote. “This book not only analyzes and describes this little known and poorly understood problem but provides a road map to ameliorating it. Utilizing the very successful model state property statute the book highlights, a statute principally drafted by Professor Thomas Mitchell, scholars, and advocates can help heirs’ property owners across the country maintain their family property and generational wealth. For those interested in real social change, this is a necessary volume!”

Mitchell serves as the Director of the BC Law Initiative on Promoting Land and Housing Rights, which seeks to help disadvantaged people and communities acquire and secure important property rights. Mitchell has published leading scholarly works addressing property issues facing disadvantaged families and communities in academic journals and government and trade publications. He has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, including the New Yorker, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, NPR, ProPublica, The Nation, Politico, Mother Jones, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, VICE, and many more. 

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